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Preparing to Apply Checklist
Attention: The filing window for low power FM applications CLOSED as of November 15th, 2013. It is unlikely that the FCC will be making another opportunity to apply for low power FM licenses any time soon. We are not accepting inquiries about applying for LPFM stations.
The new low power application form is out! To get a sense of what is on the application and what you need to do, Prometheus has prepared a checklist. This checklist is designed to help organizations along the path to apply for low power FM (LPFM) radio licenses.
Be sure to fill out the Prometheus applicant support form to get updates and support through the application process.
Click the number to the left to read the full details about each task.
Meet the FCC Requirements
|(1)||We have confirmed that there is an available channel at our location.|
|(2)||We are an eligible nonprofit (or school, government agency, or Indian Tribe) and we can prove it.|
|(3)||The members of our board either meet all eligibility requirements or fall into the listed exceptions and we can prove it.|
|(4)||Our organization is based close enough to our transmitter site and can prove it.|
|(5)||We have a description of our organization’s educational program and how our proposed station will be used to advance it.|
|(6)||We have a detailed description of the nature of our proposed station programming and, if possible, program schedules.|
Improve Your Chances
|(7)||We meet the 2-year established community presence point and can prove it. +1 point!|
|(8)||We can pledge to produce at least 8 hours of locally originated programming every day. +1 point!|
|(9)||We can pledge to maintain a publicly accessible studio in our community and staff the studio at least 20 hours a week. +1 point!|
|We pledge to meet both of the above criteria (we will produce locally originated programming AND maintain a staffed studio). +1 point!|
|(11)||Our organization has no other broadcast stations. +1 point!|
|(12)||We are a Tribal Applicant and our station will be located on our Tribal lands. +1 point!|
Find a Channel and Antenna Location
|(13)||We have identified an antenna location and we can prove that we have permission to use it.|
|(14)||If there are multiple channels available at our site, we have identified which one we will apply for.|
|(15)||Our proposed station complies with all technical rules and we have collected all necessary data about our antenna site.|
|(16)||We agree to operate within the power and height restrictions that the FCC will calculate based on the data we provide.|
|(17)||We have identified a possible studio location.|
Meet the FCC Requirements
☐ We have confirmed that there is an available channel at our location.
You can look for available channels at your location using Rfree, a free open source tool that Prometheus developed. Channels that are listed as "green" are available, and channels listed as "yellow" may be available with a special waiver of FCC rules. Channels listed as "red" are not available, but may become "green" or "yellow" if you move your antenna a short distance. When considering the area that you want to cover, experiment with moving your antenna site to another nearby location.
☐ Our organization is one of the following (check ONE):
☐ a nonprofit organization, union, foundation, association, or nonprofit corporation registered with our state (you do not have to be a 501(c)(3))
☐ a full-time school, college, or university
☐ a public safety organization (a local government agency or not-for-profit providing non-commercial public safety services)
☐ a federally recognized Tribe or an entity that is 51% or more controlled by a Tribe.
If you did not check one of the above, your organization is not eligible to apply for an LPFM license. You can look for local organizations who might be applying in your area using RadioSpark.
☑ You will need to provide proof with documents establishing your nonprofit status, such as corporate charters or articles of incorporation. This exhibit also should include the state and date of your incorporation.
☐ The members of our board meet all eligibility requirements listed below, or the exceptions listed here apply to us.
If you did not check "yes" to this question, then your organization is not eligible to apply for an LPFM license.You can look for local organizations who might be applying in your area using RadioSpark.
The criteria below must apply to all parties to your application. For most organizations, “parties to the application” simply means the members of your Board of Directors. However, if your organizational structure is more complex, there may be other parties as well.
The "parties to your application" are those who have the legal right to control your organization. For most groups, this means the Board of Directors. More precisely, it includes the officers, directors, governing board members of the applicant, its parent organization, subsidiaries, and those with attributable interest (partners in a partnership, non-insulated limited partnerships, limited liability corporations, and stock corporations). Most small nonprofit organizations are non-stock corporations. You are a non-stock corporation if you are a corporation or association with a nonprofit purpose controlled by a board that is self-propagating or elected by the members and is not controlled by anyone with a significant financial interest in the organization (small yearly dues do not count). See details on Form 318 pages 4-5.
The parties to our application:
☑ Do not control another broadcast license, a daily newspaper, or a cable television system.
☑ 80% or more are US citizens.
☑ Have no immediate family members (parents, children, siblings or spouses) who control other broadcast stations or daily newspapers in the area (see FCC Form 318 Worksheet 1A for details and exceptions).
☑ Have no character issues which were unresolved or resolved adversely in other broadcast application proceedings.
☑ Have not been found guilty of any of the following: felony, mass-media related anti-trust or unfair competition, fraudulent statements to other governmental units, or discrimination. (If you cannot check this box, you will need to file an exhibit explaining the situation, see Form 318, Question 7).
☑ Have no drug convictions that lead to the denial of federal benefits.
With respect to this question only, parties to the application means all officers, directors, or persons holding 5 percent or more of stock or shares (voting and/or non-voting); all members if a membership association; and if the applicant is a partnership, all general partners and all limited partners, including both insulated and non-insulated limited partners holding a 5 percent or more interest in their partnership. (See details on Form 318 page 8).
☑ Have never engaged in the unlicensed operation of a radio station.
Exception 1: Some members of our board do have a controlling interest in other media, but they will recuse themselves from all decisions related to the LPFM station. Our organization has a multifaceted mission (e.g. a university), and their duties are unrelated to the LPFM.
Exception 2: Our organization is a chapter of a national organization that may not meet all criteria above. However, our chapter is separately incorporated in our state and we have a local presence and mission that is distinct from the national organization.
Exception 3: Our organization controls no more than two FM translator stations, and these stations will meet the regulations on cross-ownership of LPFM and translators.
Exception 4: Our organization does hold another broadcast license, but we will give it up if our LPFM license is awarded.
Exception 5: We are a Tribe which already controls one LPFM license (Tribes may control up to two LPFM stations and up to four FM translator stations).
Exception 6: We are a public safety agency or organization which already controls an LPFM license (government entitites or not-for-profit organizations with a public safety purpose may control multiple LPFM licenses).
Exception 7: We are a college or university applying for a student-run LPFM station, and our existing broadcast radio station is not student-run.
If you did not check "yes" to ALL of the above or check one of the exceptions, then your organization is not eligible to apply for an LPFM license.
☑ For each party to your application, you will need to provide the name, address, citizenship, positional interest, percentage of votes, and percentage of total assets.
☐ We can check AT LEAST one of the three options below:
☐ Our organization is physically headquartered within 10 miles of our proposed antenna site (or for applicants outside the top 50 urban radio markets, our organization is headquartered within 20 miles). A P.O. Box is not enough; your organization must be able to document your actual address.
☐ 75% of our board members reside within ten miles of our proposed antenna site (or for applicants outside the top 50 urban radio markets, they reside within twenty miles).
☐ We are a public safety organization with jurisdiction over the area of our proposed transmitter site.
☐ We are a Tribe and our Tribal lands are within the service area of the proposed station.
If you did not check "yes" to at least one of these options, then your organization is not eligible to apply for an LPFM license. You can look for local organizations who might be applying in your area using RadioSpark.
☐ A description of your organization’s educational program and how your proposed station will be used to advance your educational program. (Or, in the case of a Public Safety Radio facility, the applicant must describe how the proposed station will protect the safety of life, health, or property.)
The educational program can be very broad, such as "to educate the community about the Methodist ministry" or "to educate the community about the cultural heritage of Mexican-Americans." The program should not solely be operating a low power radio station. The program does not have to be a traditional educational program like that of a school or university, but it should have the word "educate" in it. If your organization is a local chapter of a national organization, you must describe a local mission that is distinct from the national mission.
☐ Detailed descriptions of the nature of your proposed station programming and, if possible, program schedules.
The programming you describe does not have to be traditional educational programming, as long as it furthers the station's mission. You are not bound permanently by the programming suggestions and other activities that you submit as examples. But you should try to predict what you will actually do. This effort should also help you to organize your group and energize your volunteers. Try to be as specific as possible, but you probably don't need more than one or two pages.
Improve Your Chances
You can improve your chances of winning an LPFM license by qualifying for as many "preference" points as possible. The FCC uses these points to decide winners among competing groups. Tasks 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 below are the points you can receive on your application.
☐ Our organization has been in existence as a nonprofit educational institution or organization registered with our state for at least two years. And our organization has been physically headquartered within 16.1 kilometers (10 miles) of the coordinates of the proposed transmitting antenna over the past two years. If the organization has not been physically headquartered within 10 miles, the organization has had a campus OR has had 75 percent of its governing board members residing within 10 miles of the proposed antenna site.
A public safety radio service applicant must only be able to certify that during the two years prior to application it had jurisdiction within the service area of the proposed LPFM station.
☑ If you are claiming the point for two years' established community presence, evidence that documents when your organization began as well as the location of your headquarters, campus, or governing board members’ residences (or, for governmental public safety radio service applicants, the area of jurisdiction) during the two years prior to the application filing will need to be provided.
This could include corporate charters, articles of incorporation, association, or partnership, or other written instruments filed with the appropriate governmental agency (e.g., Secretary of State) documenting your period of existence. The location of an applicant’s headquarters, campus, or governing board members’ residences may be demonstrated by the submission of statements supported by the affidavit of a person or persons with personal knowledge of this.
☐ We can pledge to produce at least eight hours of locally originated programming every day.
Locally originated programming is programming that is produced within 10 miles of the transmitting antenna site (outside the top 50 markets, it must be within 20 miles of the antenna site). It may include music or talk programs, live or pre-recorded, as long as music is selected by a local disc jockey in a non-random mix. Programming that is downloaded or received via satellite does not count as locally originated, even if you broadcast it at another time.
☐ We can pledge to maintain a publicly acessible studio in our community and staff the studio at least 20 hours per week.
To earn this point, you must pledge to maintain a publicly accessible main studio that has local program origination capability, is reachable by telephone, is staffed at least 20 hours per week between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., and is located within 10 miles of the transmitter (or within 20 miles for applicants outside the top 50 urban markets). Applicants must specify the proposed address and telephone number for the main studio in the application.
☐ We can pledge to meet BOTH the local program origination and main studio criteria.
If you pledge to meet the criteria for both local program origination point (#8 above) and the main studio point (#9 above), you can receive a third "bonus" point.
☐ Our organization has no other broadcast stations.
Your organization may hold no attributable interests in any other broadcast station. It's fine if a member of your organization hosts a show on a radio station. Nearly all applicants should receive this point.
☐ We are a Tribal Applicant and our station will be located on our Tribal lands.
To earn this point, you must be a federally recognized Tribe, or an entity that is 51% or more controlled by a Tribe. The proposed site for your station's transmitting antenna must be located on your Tribal Lands.
Find a Channel and Antenna Location
☐ We have identified an antenna location (also called a transmitter site or transmitting antenna site) for our station.
Many factors determine a good antenna location, including height, terrain, distance from your listening audience, and distance from other radio stations. The antenna does not need to be at the same location as the radio studio. Generally, an antenna is located on multi-story building or a radio tower in the community you wish to serve. In more rural areas, it may be possible to build your own antenna structure. You may wish to consult an engineer to select the best location.
A low power station will reach listeners in an area of two to five mile radius (in big cities, it's closer to two). Keep this in mind when you look for an antenna site. It may help to draw a two mile-radius circle on a map, covering the neighborhoods that you want to serve with your station, and look for potential sites within that circle.
Ask your city or county where you can put your antenna. They may have zoning regulations that limit where you can locate your station, or you may have to apply for a “special use permit” to locate it where you want. You must also have permission from the owner of the site to locate your antenna on their building or tower.
Finally, building a station within .8 km of an AM station with a non-directional antenna, or 3.2 km of an AM station with a directional antenna, will require special calculations which can be expensive. When possible, you should try to build outside these zones (an engineer can help you determine this). (See the FCC rule 73.1692 for more).
☑ You will need to provide a letter from the owner of your antenna site to document that you have "reasonable assurance" you will be able to locate your antenna there.
You won't need a signed lease, but you should have written documentation from the building or tower owner indicating that you are in conversation about locating your antenna there. This letter should confirm that the site is available and that you expect to sign a lease after you receive your construction permit. Although this document is not required in your application, you will need to have this if your application is challenged by other parties.
☐ If there are multiple channels available at our site, we have identified which one we will apply for.
If you have more than one available channel, you may require an engineer to determine which channel you should apply to use. The factors that determine a good channel include coverage area, the amount of interference you receive from other nearby stations, and whether the station requires a special rule waiver (which also entails more strict regulations).
☐ Our proposed station complies with all technical rules for LPFM and we have collected all necessary data about our antenna site.
If your channel is listed as "yellow" in Rfree, you will need the help of an engineer to complete the technical section of the application. If your available channel is listed as "green," you may be able to complete your application on your own, though you may still choose to hire an engineer.
☐ We can check one of the two options below:
☐ Our proposed station meets all distance separation requirements.
☐ Our proposed station meets all distance separation requirements except those on the second adjacent frequency, and meets the requirements for a second adjacent frequency waiver (waiver exhibit required).
Using the channel search tool at RFree, a "green" channel meets all distance separation requirements. "Yellow" channels will require waivers. Waiver requests must demonstrate that your proposed station will not cause interference to nearby stations. Not all open second-adjacent frequencies will qualify for waivers at all locations. You will need an engineer to determine whether your station can get a waiver and to produce the waiver request.
☐ If our antenna structure is greater than 200 feet, more than 20 feet above a building that totals (building + tower) 200 feet, or within 6.1 kilometers of an airport, there is an FAA Notification filed with the FAA and we have the antenna structure registration number.
See the Code of Federal Regulations Title 47 Section 17.7 for details.
☐ The proposed station complies with the rules about TV Channel Six interference.
All channels listed as "green" in RFree comply with these rules.
☐ The proposed station complies with the National Environmental Policy Act.
You will need to complete Form 318's General Environmental worksheet and RF Exposure Worksheets.The General Environmental Worksheet indicates that your station will not have a significant environmental impact. The RF Exposure Worksheet determines whether your station complies with the FCC's radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic exposure limits, based on the proposed antenna height above ground level.
If you cannot select "No" to each question on the General Environmental Worksheet, then you will need to submit an environmental assessment, which is described in the Form 318 instructions, page 10. Similarly, if you cannot meet the guidelines on the RF Exposure worksheet (Worksheet 3), you will need to use more complex measurements to demonstrate compliance with the RF Exposure rules.
☐ We have the following data about our antenna location:
☑ Antenna location site elevation above mean sea level (in meters)
☑ Overall tower height above ground level (in meters)
☑ Height of antenna radiation center above ground level (in meters)
☑ Latitude and longitude coordinates
RFree software provides this information to users.
☐ We agree to operate within the power and height restrictions that the FCC will calculate based on the data we provide.
Low power stations may operate up to 100 watts at a height of 30 meters above average terrain. If your antenna is higher than 30 meters (about 98 feet), the FCC will lower your power accordingly.
☐ We have identified a possible studio location.
This question is not required by the application unless you pledge to maintain a main studio (see #7 above), but you will need a studio near your antenna site, ideally located in a building with a "line of sight" to your antenna. Learn more about studio-transmitter links on our Transmission resources page.